“I don’t have that word ‘failure’ in my vocabulary. I see every challenge or obstacle as an opportunity to learn,” says Lindani Dhlamini, CEO of SekelaXabiso.
South Africa’s failure rate is well documented – according to Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu, between 70% to 80% of startups fail within the first year of operation, with the fear of failure being one of the many reasons some would-be entrepreneurs are unwilling to start businesses. South Africa’s entrepreneurial activity sits at just 7%.
Dhlamini is one of many entrepreneurs who would like the messaging around failure to change. She is the co-founder of one of SA’s leading black-owned professional firms specialising in internal audit, IT audit, forensic audit and business consulting, which was launched after a merger of two auditing firms, Sekela Consulting and Xabiso Chartered Accountants, four years ago.
Born in Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, Dhlamini attended Adams College which, in a previous interview with SME South Africa, Dhlamini says was a huge opportunity for a black girl from the township during a time when the country was going through racial turmoil. Dhlamini holds a BSc (computer science), a BCom (conversion) from the University of Cape Town.
Dhlamini believes that failure should not be regarded as the end of the world, but rather as a necessary step to gaining the experience and insight needed to succeed.
“I see every challenge and obstacle as an opportunity to maybe take a pause and reflect as to ‘did I need to be going in this direction in the first place?’. So I’ve never considered any of the challenges that we’ve had, and there have been plenty, and there are probably going to be plenty more going forward, as failures as such.”
“It is really just opportunities for us to learn, to do things differently and to think about what it is we’re trying to achieve,” says Dhlamini, who was recently named Southern Africa’s Business Woman of the Year in the 2016 Southern Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA).
Dhlamini speaks to SME South Africa about how she decides when it’s time to let go of an unsuccessful venture and ensures that she grows from every experience.
Listen: Here’s how Dhlamini makes sure she leverages and learns from every experience – both good and bad
– “Take a step back and unpack as to how you got to that point”
Listen: ‘Entrepreneurship is not all about doing as you please’ – Dhlamini on the misconception that many entrepreneurs fall prey to
– “Unfortunately being an entrepreneur is harder than being employed”
Listen: Dhlamini on knowing when to persist and when to throw in the towel
– “The critical thing is you mustn’t be deterred because when one door closes another one opens”
Listen: Why Dhlamini says success and failure are two sides of the same coin, and how you can turn your failures into success
– “It is about knowing where you are going because if you don’t, any challenge is going to derail you”
Listen: Is embracing failure a good thing or ultimately harmful for entrepreneurs? Here’s what Dhlamini has to say
– “As an entrepreneur, you wake up every morning thinking today is the day I’m going to crack it!”